Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Emotional Intelligence Of Dogs

Remember the last time you had to spell words to keep your pooch from catching on? Probably when you took her for a walk an hour ago, right?
Here's why your little fluffy is so smart.
Science has shown that several animal species can out-perform dogs in some areas of intelligence. Wolves are better at solving problems. Unlike dogs, several primates and even dolphins and elephants show human-like self-awareness. They even pass the “mirror test,” understanding what it does. (If you surreptitiously put something red on an elephant's forehead – something it can't feel – and then you hold up a mirror, the elephant will see the red shape and know that it is seeing itself in the mirror and not some other elephant. Then it will reach its trunk up to its forehead to investigate the red shape.)
This self-awareness is rare in the animal world, and dogs don't have much of it. But dogs can do something complex that no other animal can do.
They can watch, listen to, and read people.
Photo from PetLifeRadio .com

In fact, dogs are the only animals that really study people's faces. (For many species, including several primates, looking another creature in the eyes is a form of aggression. And of course it is considered aggressive behavior among some groups of humans, too.)
In a departure from other animals, dogs study their owners' faces. As you know, they do this with intensity. Tests have shown that dogs are far superior to other animals in understanding what a person wants, just by the look on the human's face.
Think of your own dog. If you even glance toward the leash or the dog treats, your dog will notice and get excited. Of course, this applies to your words as well. If you're like most dog owners, you have developed elaborate techniques for communicating with other people in ways to keep your dog from finding out your meaning. You can't even mention the words “going for a walk” without your dog jumping up and scratching the floor as he or she runs around excited.
Dogs understand us in a way no other animal can. The brilliant chimp who has a large vocabulary of sign language can't come close to a dog in understanding what a human wants by the look on the human's face.
Dogs are amazing and unique among species. When it comes to emotional intelligence, they have no equals.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Of The Top 10 U.S. Real Estate Markets, 5 Are Near Tahoe!

Not long ago, I mentioned that Tahoe real estate is turning around. A few days ago, ran a blog on the ten fastest-appreciating real estate markets in the country. Where were they? Five of them were in Northern California.

1 Sacramento
3 San Francisco
4 San Jose
6 Oakland
7 Fresno

Of the remaining five best markets, two more were in Southern California, Santa Barbara and Riverside. Seven out of ten of the best markets in the country are in the Golden State.
What does this mean? California real estate is roaring back, attracting investors from across the country. Sacramento prices have jumped 35% in the last year. And for San Francisco, already the most expensive city in the country, to jump 23% is huge. Where are the dollars from the coming sales and refinance boom going to go? A lot of them are coming up the mountain to Tahoe. As goes Northern California, so goes Tahoe. Northern California even pulls up (or down, as the case may be) Northern Nevada.
So if you've ever wanted a place in paradise, don't wait.
Here are some links to Tahoe Real Estate Companies.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Careers In Tahoe

Can you earn a real living in Tahoe?

My first vacation in Tahoe was over 30 years ago. On leaving I thought, “Wow, it would be amazing to live in a place like that.” The second vacation cemented the desire. But when the actual moving time came, excitement was mixed with concern about how to earn a living in a mountain paradise.
Nearly every Tahoe local that I've met since then had the same concern as they first thought of relocating. Today, looking at the deep snow, heavy on the pines and firs, I know that many ecstatic skiers and boarders are heading home wondering the same thing.
You're young. Or young at heart. You've vacationed at Tahoe and were amazed. Ever since, a little voice in your head has been nagging at you. Why not move to Tahoe? Why live in (your town's name here), when you could live in one of the most spectacular places on the planet, a place with fabulous year 'round recreation, a place that draws millions of tourists from all over the world, a place that has tons of snow without tons of cold, a place that honestly has the best summer weather of anyplace on the planet. (When I first arrived, multiple locals said, "I know you moved here for the skiing, but you'll stay for the summer because it's perfect, hot sun, cool air, unbelievable recreation." They were right.)
So you're thinking of moving here. But you're wondering, can you earn a living in Tahoe?

Photo from

Yes, it's true, Tahoe has more than its share of tech titans and movie stars and rock stars and media magnates and bankbook babies. You can spot them in their Porsche Cayennes and Range Rovers and chauffeur-driven limos as they cruise from restaurants with lots of Zagat raves to mansions with lots of lakeshore. These people aren't worried about making the monthly rent.
But the truth is that most Tahoe residents actually work for a living just like people everywhere else. They are proof that you can live in Tahoe even if you don't have extra commas on your bank statement.
Talk to Tahoe people about "getting a job" and you'll hear something like this: It's easy to get a low-paying job in the service industry, but don't expect much pay or benefits, and don't expect it to be a year-'round job. The upside is that these jobs are actually easier to get in Tahoe than most anywhere. But more on that in a bit.
If instead of talking about a service job, you talk about building a career in Tahoe, you will hear Tahoe residents make thoughtful comments about how you can earn a good living if you have valuable skills that are useful in a small community, or if you have skills that are non-location specific.
Let's expand on both approaches.
If you are young and you don't yet have valuable career skills, service jobs are plentiful. All you have to do is think Hospitality Industry, which is to say restaurants, hotels, and recreation. We have something like 2 or 3 million tourists a year and they all need food and someone to help them onto the chairlifts and into tour boats, someone to pour their beer. Nearly anyone can get these jobs, making Tahoe one of the easiest places to find entry-level work. Getting a job is especially easy in late fall in prep for the ski season, and in late spring in prep for the summer season. For example, the ski resorts even have job fairs in late fall, where they fill thousands of positions. All you have to do is show up on time, be presentable (It's always a good idea to have a very short resume with good grammar and spelling), and you'll get hired on the spot. Restaurants and hotels all around the lake start looking in April and May for reliable summer help.
Are you charming? Can you wait tables or pour drinks? If so, your first Tahoe job can actually pay quite well.
Want something more?
Like all communities, we also have a limited number of higher-skilled jobs, nursing, construction, teaching, ski instructing, and even executive positions working for the big hotels and ski resorts. And there are a wide range of jobs available in law enforcement, fire-fighting, and working for the Forest Service and other government agencies.
Need more education to get those jobs? Then you can wait tables while you go to school at Lake Tahoe Community College or Sierra Nevada College. (See previous post on Going To College in Tahoe here.)
In addition, there is always a need for the self-employed professionals: doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, architects, consultants. Growing a professional career in Tahoe is not much different than doing it anyplace else. And if the income might be less than it would be in the big city (and that isn't always the case), the advantages of living in a beautiful, pristine, uncrowded paradise more than make up for it.
If you are an entrepreneur, Tahoe is a great place to bring or create your own business. Many restaurants, building contractors, bed-and-breakfasts, sports stores, vacation rental property management, bike and ski and kayak rentals, tour boat operators, realtors, fishing guides, and a wide range of other businesses thrive here.
There is one more group of people who are increasingly finding their way to Tahoe. These are the people whose work is not specific to any location. If you make your living over the internet, a gorgeous place like Tahoe beckons. Software engineers, artists,
Yes, she's working!

 website designers, computer consultants, graphic artists, photographers, screen writers, tax preparers... The list is almost endless, and we have people from hundreds of varied fields who bike and ski and hike on the uncrowded weekdays and work on the more crowded weekends.
With some forethought and planning, you can find the perfect employment in Tahoe.
For that matter, you could even be a mystery author...

Here are some useful links.

For postings of Tahoe employment: 

For Education and Occupational training in Tahoe:

For geography, history, etc.:

For general news about Tahoe:

For long-term Tahoe accommodations:

Tahoe -specific websites:

Real Estate Companies

Of course, I can't forget to include info for those interested in reading mystery fiction about the area:   

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why Are Mountains Colder Than Valleys?

We've all noticed that when you drive from the valley up into the mountains it cools off. (Which is why Tahoe is so popular in August when it hits triple digits in Sacramento.)
Why is this?
The simple only-kind-of-techy answer is that the lower you are the more atmosphere is above you, and the more the air gets squeezed by all the air above it. The molecules in compressed air have more energy and they bounce around faster than they do in air that isn't so compressed.
Lucky for us, we have sensors in our skin that can take a reading on how fast those molecules are hitting us. We call it temperature. It's a self-protective measure, because if those molecules hit us too fast, we cook. And if they hit us too slow, we freeze.
(From the Orange County Register)

Okay, that's simplified.
What I really wanted to know is this: Is there a regular amount that temperature rises or falls when you go down the mountain or up the mountain?
So I did a little Wikipedia research.
First thing I noticed was that this is a regular subject (Who knew?), and it's called the Temperature Lapse Rate.
Turns out that the answer is yes, the temp fluctuates with elevation change in a regular manner. How much?
Well, as always there is a complication or two, and they involve how humid the air is and how much it is moving. But I learned that there is a range that we can count on.
If the air is really dry, the temps will cool a bit over 5 degrees Fahrenheit for each thousand feet you go up.
And if the air is really humid, the temps will cool a bit less than 3 degrees for each thousand feet you go up.
I had to pause at that point and think about the air around Tahoe. Usually it is quite dry except when we get storms. So I decided there was nothing wrong with taking an average.
Average "less-than-3" with "more-than-5" and you get a nice round 4.
So there's my answer. On average, the temp goes up or down about 4 degrees for every thousand feet of elevation loss or gain.
Let's say I'm at Donner Summit, a bit over 7000 feet above sea level. It's January 6th, and the temperature is a chilly 25 degrees. What's the temp in the Central Valley? Because the Central Valley is close to sea level, I'll lose approximately 7000 feet. 7 (for seven thousand feet) times 4 degrees equals 28 degrees. So Sacramento is probably a comfortable 53 degrees (28 plus 25).
Play the game in reverse: How much can a broiling Sacto resident expect to cool off when it is 105 degrees downtown in August? This time, let's ignore the summit, because most people don't vacation on the pass. They head on in to Tahoe at 6300 feet. Again, rounding, 6 (for six thousand feet) times 4 degrees is 24 degrees. So when Sac is 105, Tahoe is going to be 24 degrees cooler, or a pleasant 81.

Of course, the cold lake cools things off more, so we're probably more like 77 degrees.
Now we know why Tahoe gets crowded in the summer!